Hiring more nurses benefits everyone

Every year, nearly 200,000 patients die as a result of medical errors and infections acquired inside hospitals. Aside from the human toll, medical errors cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year -- more than $17 billion in 2008.

In an effort aimed at reducing medical errors and lowering costs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other private insurance companies are increasingly aligning hospital reimbursement with the quality of care delivered. While hospitals will no longer be reimbursed for certain medical errors, reimbursement rates will be enhanced where hospitals improve specific patient outcomes and meet select quality measures.

Many of the outcomes or conditions associated with payment reform, i.e., medical errors and injuries that can reasonably be prevented -- such as pressure ulcers, injuries related to inpatient falls, hospital-acquired infections, post-operative complications, readmission rates, length of stay, failure to rescue -- are outcomes that are fundamentally related to nurse staffing levels.

Decades of highly credible studies have demonstrated time and again that patient safety and quality of patient care are directly impacted by R.N. staffing levels. The sheer volume of studies is astounding. The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, found that inadequate nurse staffing levels were a factor in nearly a quarter of the most serious life-threatening events.

Historically, payment systems have not adequately taken quality, or nursing's contribution to it, into account. The new reimbursement reforms are indirectly intended to address this concern. Thus, there is a business case to improve staffing levels, not to mention a moral case. Are you listening, Kaleida?

Katrina Howard, R.N., B.S.N.



Require Collins' aide to use swipe system, too

Isn't it ironic that Chris Collins' chief of staff, Christopher Grant, wastes county money by not using the new, efficient county payroll swipe system? I guess we could always check his parking pass and see when he was at work. But wait, information like that cannot be released to the public. "Building security" is used as an excuse why the public does not know what positions are granted parking in the Rath Building. We all know that the terrorists are waiting for that information.

Craig Bloom



Republicans' criticism of Obama is never-ending

The letter written by a News reader that criticized President Obama for playing golf on Memorial Day filled me with dismay and the realization that the writer is no doubt a staunch Republican who spends the entire Memorial Day on his knees at the cemetery. He is undoubtedly a preacher of family values, and a nit-picker who delights in judging others, especially if they are Democrats.

Evidently golf is a sin in his good book. How many of us play golf on Memorial Day? How many of us attend baseball games or shop the Memorial Day sales at the mall? Is it a sin to celebrate at backyard barbecues? I always say a prayer for the dead on Memorial Day, but I don't wrap myself in the American flag while doing so, and I don't check on others to see if they are measuring up to my expectations. Must the president be false, like so many of his detractors, and not have any fun even after he has spent a good part of his day making a speech at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the fallen soldiers? Just because he is the president, he is still a human being who deserves some down time. Just ask the speaker of the House.

I would expire from shock if I ever heard a Republican say anything nice about Obama. After all, the Republicans' main objective is to make him a one-term president. Ever since he became president, they have done everything possible to denigrate him. I will give him my vote in 2012 even though he plays golf. He deserves another term to try to get us out of this mess that the last administration took eight years to create. The fact that he was able to stop Osama bin Laden is enough to make him a hero to me.

Diana Notaro



It is union's duty to act in members' best interest

The recent article on New York State United Teachers was in general a good piece of reportage. There is one paragraph, however, that repeats an oft-stated, and no doubt widely accepted, position on the role of teachers' labor unions.

"Tensions with NYSUT are high in both houses. Lawmakers talk of nasty run-ins with NYSUT members or representatives in the Capitol. In private talks, they said, NYSUT clearly was pushing an agenda that, in the end, focused on teachers' finances and not classroom programs."

The function of a labor union is to protect its members' working conditions, benefits and wages. The last two deal with teachers' finances. Some may not like labor unions, and there is a good argument to be made against unions for public workers, but let's not demonize teachers' unions with the old canard of "they don't care about the kids." That is not their function.

The function of a labor union is to represent what is in the best interests of its members. Classroom programs are in the jurisdiction of the federal and state education departments, local school boards and administrations. They are not in the purview of teachers' unions.

Mark R. Cassidy

Newfane Central School

Olcott Beach


Let's encourage kids to reach for the stars

Thanks to a recent My View writer for the encouraging words given to our future collegians. Do not set yourself up for failure and aim too high when applying for college. The odds are against you. The deck is stacked.

In high school, my daughter and her friends were not encouraged to try for the "Ivies," or even schools that were that far away from Erie County. They attended public school, did well, but were certainly not that exceptional. They were not challenged to aim high.

After undergrad at Union College, my daughter continued on to Harvard, received her master's degree and is there now, completing her doctorate degree. She or her friends may never have gotten into Harvard as freshmen, but you never know. They did not apply.

The simple fact is, you don't get into any college if you don't apply. The freshman selection process is complicated and one never knows exactly what or who a school is looking for. We should not deter our youth from aspiring to be in that 6.2 percent accepted at Harvard, or to shy away from any selection process.

Amy A. Brinkworth